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Previous Ann Castle Award Recipients

2017: Jill Meister

Jill Meister has more than 20 years of experience in development and fundraising, and has served in several key roles that contributed to the success of seven multi-million dollar capital campaigns. She received her bachelor’s degree in management from Franklin Pierce College before receiving her MBA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Jill is currently the Director of Prospect Research and Management at the University of New Hampshire. She started her career as a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was the manager of Development Research Services. She then worked as the Associate Director of Prospect Development for Brown University. Most recently, Jill was Director of Advancement Services and Research for the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Jill is the president of Apra, and former president of NEDRA.  She has been a member of Apra and NEDRA for over 20 years, and has served on numerous committees in both organizations. As an active member of the prospect development community, she has presented at CASE, AFP, NEDRA, MARC and Apra International events.

2016: Dina Zelleke

Dina Zelleke has been the Director of Research at Harvard University’s Alumni Affairs & Development office since April 2001, and has been at Harvard since January 1998. She leads a team of 20, providing research support for the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, as well as six of Harvard’s graduate schools. Prior to coming to Harvard Dina worked as a paralegal in the corporate legal department of Southern California Edison. 


Dina received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of San Diego, and a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard Extension School.  She is a former board member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA), and the New England Development Research Association (NEDRA), where she served as co-chair of the 2007 and 2008 conferences. 

2015:  Nancy Faughnan 

Nancy Faughnan has been a senior research analyst at Yale University since 2004 and has been at the University since 1988. She is part of the team that supports the work of Yale’s central development office. Nancy also oversees the research and prospecting function of Yale Law School and Yale Nursing School. Prior to these roles, Nancy initially developed and led the research function of Yale’s non-legacy parents program, creating a liaison with the undergraduate admissions office that has allowed research to proactively identify and evaluate new sources of giving and programmatic opportunities. Since 2013, Nancy has served as a resource in prospect research to a preparatory school in the Middle East.

Nancy served on the NEDRA board of directors from 2006 to 2012 and co-chaired the programming committee with, at different times, Amy Minton, David Sterling, and Amy Bagley Begg. During that time, NEDRA developed a strong cohort of year-round program offerings that has flourished with the help of committed volunteers and compelling speakers, as well as formalized many functions of the board. Nancy lives in Madison, Connecticut, volunteers for local animal welfare causes and for NEDRA’s programming committee.

2014:  Heather Reisz 

Heather Lynn Reisz was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. She moved from Boston to Chicago in November 2011 to start a new research group within the development department at the Art Institute of Chicago, she most recently served as the Director of Research at the Art Institute. Prior to moving to Chicago, Heather was the Director of Research and Prospect Development at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Manager of Research at the Museum of Science Boston.

Heather began her career in the mid-90's at the Names Project - AIDS Memorial Quilt in San Francisco. A former colleague wrote that she was the "engine behind corporate and foundation giving at the Quilt" that enabled them to do the 1996 display of the complete quilt on the Mall in Washington, DC and the organization's High School Quilt Program.

Heather was an active and devoted volunteer and former board member of the New England Development Research Association (NEDRA). She had an infectious love for the work she did and served as a mentor to many. She had a particular fondness for newcomers to the profession. Thanks to Heather’s free sharing of knowledge, support and advice, there are numerous people in the field who have her to thank for their success.

Heather was vivacious and made friends everywhere she went. She had a boisterous laugh and an empathetic heart. She was incredibly talented and found her calling as a researcher and data "nerd" within the development department of non-profits. She was a devoted friend and colleague.

2013:  Sarah Fernandez 

Sarah Fernandez has worked at MIT since 1998 and in her current position as Director of Research and Prospect Management since 2005. Before joining MIT, she was the Research Coordinator at the Boston Museum of Science, a Research Analyst at Harvard University and the Coordinator of Research Services at UC Berkeley. Fernandez has a master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a bachelor's degree in history from Grinnell College.

Sarah was one of the organizers of NEDRA and a member of the first Board of Directors in 1987. She served as NEDRA’s treasurer from 1988 to 1990. 

2012:  Joe Donnelly 

Joe Donnelly currently serves as Vice President & Campaign Director in the Office of University Advancement at Northeastern University. In that role, he oversees development information services, donor relations, events, and research. In addition, he helps plan and implement the strategic direction of the advancement division in advance of a major fundraising initiative.

Since beginning his development career in research at Brandeis, Joe has held positions in donor relations at Harvard, Brandeis, and Northeastern universities, and was director of advancement services at Phillips Academy, Andover. He has also done front-line fundraising in health care and education.

Joe was the founding president of both the New England Development Research Association and the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) and has done many presentations at NEDRA, APRA, ADRP, CASE, and AFP conferences. In 2009, he was presented the Founders Award from ADRP for “significant contributions to the profession.” Joe holds a B.A. in art history from Bates College. 

2011:  Marianne Pelletier (Written by Helen Brown)

Many times these introductions start with a recitation of the individual’s pedigree in the field:  Harvard, Lesley, Southern New Hampshire, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell.  Not too shabby. 

Also mentioned are usually the alphabet soup after the person’s name: MBA, CFRE.

But what I want to concentrate on is Marianne’s service.  Marianne served with me as a board member of NEDRA for six years, and most significantly as our treasurer.  She brought us out of an era of chewing gum and duct tape and put NEDRA’s finances in a format that an accountant could recognize.  Since I was president at the time, I was grateful for her MBA and annoyed that she wouldn’t always let me do what I wanted to do.  I’d say: “I want to pay a really great speaker to do the keynote at the NEDRA conference!” “No!” 

She earned the title “Dr. No.”

But she’s also honest as the day is long – those of you who have been NEDRA members since Marianne was treasurer will remember the line item in the budget she reported on at the conference for two years running titled “I don’t know.”  She didn’t know where that $15.00 came from, but it had showed up on the accounts and by god she was going to report it.

Marianne harped, cajoled, threatened and encouraged us to find new and creative ways to increase membership and innovate programming, and by doing so helped create a foundation of financial strength for this organization.  I have always found her wise counsel invaluable and her friendship irreplaceable.

Marianne’s service to prospect research didn’t quit when she left New England.  She is retiring as the current president of the APRA Upstate New York chapter and, if she gets enough votes, will become an APRA board member this summer.

Marianne has devoted 23 years of her life to this cool profession, beginning with her time working for Ann Castle.  

I know that wherever Ann is right now, she’s looking down and smiling.  Please join me in congratulating the 2011 recipient of the NEDRA Ann Castle Award, Marianne Pelletier.

2010:  Charlie Carr 

Charlie Carr is the Senior Principal Gifts Researcher in the Office of Development Services at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Charlie has been at MIT since 1986 during which he supported two major capital campaigns.  His responsibilities include preparing research on very-high-net-worth individuals for calls by the senior officers and top volunteers of the Institute.

Charlie’s expertise in understanding MIT's top prospects is mirrored by his in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of prospect research and wealth analysis.  He has written and updated the financial section of MIT’s internal training manual focusing on SEC documents and transactions.  He stays current on all the changing rules and regulations and serves as a mentor to the members of the MIT research team.  Charlie has also conducted numerous workshops teaching MIT field staff members how to look up basic information on their own.

Charlie has also been extremely generous with his time and expertise to researchers throughout the region.  He is a frequent presenter at NEDRA conferences on topics including Research Basics and Research Math.  He served as the "expert" at NEDRA's annual "The Expert is In" booth, has participated in NEDRA's Mentor Program, and has written articles for NEDRA News.  Charlie has also been a presenter or panelist at conferences for the Massachusetts chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA).  For APRA, Charlie has given numerous presentations including sessions on Basic Corporate Research.

Before entering the development field, Charlie worked in the private banking industry.

2009:  Paul Dakin 

Paul Dakin served as President of the New England Development Research Association from 2004 to 2006 and spent a total of six years on the NEDRA Board.  During his tenure as President, Paul led the effort to incorporate NEDRA as a chapter of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA), shepherded NEDRA through a remarkable growth spurt, and helped fashion the organization into a model for the industry.  His ability to formulate, communicate, and execute visionary concepts was critical in growing and shaping NEDRA into what it is today.  Paul was also instrumental in steering NEDRA’s educational direction by leading the Board commitment to develop the highest quality programming.

Paul entered the prospect research profession at Harvard University in 1995 when, as luck would have it, his staff assistant cubicle was stationed just outside the office of Director of Research Ann Castle.  Paul and Ann became acquainted over conversations at the photocopier, eventually leading to his start in the research field.  He went on to hold research positions at Harvard, MIT, Northeastern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy before joining the Gardner Museum in 2006.

Paul has been a frequent and popular presenter at NEDRA, APRA and CASE events, sharing his advanced knowledge of the prospect research profession and his breadth of experience with numerous others.  Demonstrating constant patience, enthusiasm, and professionalism, he has also been a mentor to many, helping colleagues develop both their knowledge and their careers.

Throughout his career, and especially during his tenure at the helm of NEDRA, Paul has been a true ambassador for the field of prospect research and has inspired others to give back to the profession.  The NEDRA Board and the Ann Castle Award Committee are delighted to recognize Paul Dakin with this prestigious award.

2008:  Valerie Anastasio 

Valerie Anastasio, Development Officer, Special Projects at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, is the recipient of the seventh annual Ann Castle Award.  Valerie has spent 17 years in development research, operations and prospect management, and frontline fundraising roles at educational and cultural institutions.  From 1999 to August 2007, she served as Director of Research and Prospect Development at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, working on strategic, feasibility and donor prospecting for the museum’s $500 million campaign.  Before joining the MFA, Valerie was Director of Development Research at Harvard University.  Prior to Harvard, she worked in frontline annual fund raising at Boston Lyric Opera, Brandeis University, and WGBH Television and Radio.

Valerie is an especially esteemed research professional who brings the experience and knowledge of fundraising to her understanding and practice of development research.  Her visionary ideas regarding the use of data to inform fundraising strategies have been valued tremendously by her colleagues at the MFA and her counsel has been strongly relied upon by many in the wider research community.  Valerie is an enthusiastic supporter of the research profession in general, and NEDRA in particular, which she has served in many ways, not the least of which as a former member of the NEDRA board.  Her leadership has also led to a new way of thinking about research programs in non-educational institutions. 

Valerie generously shares her understanding of research strategies, methods, and skills with others in our profession at all levels.  She has made numerous presentations on a wide variety of topics for NEDRA, APRA, CASE and AFP programs.  Her presentations, most notably those on the hedge fund, financial services, and venture capital industries, have been regarded as must attend educational events.  Valerie’s professionalism, judgment, ethics, knowledge and experience make her a valued colleague to many in the development field.  The NEDRA Board and the Ann Castle Award nominating committee are delighted to recognize Valerie Anastasio with this prestigious award.

2007:  Elizabeth Crabtree 

Elizabeth Crabtree, Director of Prospect Development at Brown University, is the recipient of the sixth annual Ann Castle Award.  In her position at Brown, she manages a team of professionals that provide advice, counsel and analytical support to several areas critical to Brown’s fundraising effort, including:  campaign planning and management, prospect identification and research, data mining, modeling and market research, and relationship management.  Elizabeth is a member of the board of directors for the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA), where she serves as Vice President of Education and Professional Development and chaired APRA’s 2005 and 2006 International Conferences.  Elizabeth is also a member of AFP, CASE, and NEDRA, and is a frequent, nationally recognized speaker and philanthropy and nonprofit research consultant.  As the founder of, Elizabeth is creating a website to share resources, techniques and best practices related to understanding wealth, philanthropy and fundraising research, which is due to launch in the near future.

Previously Elizabeth held senior development positions with Northern Illinois University, Benedictine University, College of DuPage and the Digital Schoolhouse Foundation.  Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, Elizabeth spent eight years working as a marketing director and senior analyst in the consumer products and manufacturing industries and six years in arts management as a talent/music agent.   Her expertise spans the areas of corporate, foundation and government relations, marketing and business development, communications, and program and volunteer management. 

Elizabeth is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and is currently an Executive M.A. candidate in the Philanthropic Studies program at Indiana University.

Elizabeth Crabtree embodies the spirit of the Ann Castle Award.  Elizabeth is very generous to the research community, giving of her expertise, guidance, and her wealth of resources that she has created through her professional experiences, and her research on the world of philanthropy.  She has given much to the profession, and to both NEDRA and APRA.  She is a speaker at many conferences and workshops, often given pro-bono, and is a mentor and advisor to all in the research profession.  Elizabeth’s vision, accompanied by her intelligence and warmth make her an outstanding leader in the development field. The NEDRA Board and nominating committee are pleased to recognize Elizabeth Crabtree with this prestigious award.

2006:  Helen Brown 

Helen Brown, founder and head of research consulting firm, The Helen Brown Group, was the recipient of the fifth annual Ann Castle Award.  Since becoming a development professional in 1987, Helen has worked with a variety of clients to establish and re-align research departments, identify major gift prospects, and train researchers and other fundraisers. 

Over the course of her nineteen year career, Helen Brown has become a recognized leader among development research professionals in New England.  As a director of NEDRA and a past President, Helen recognized the need for a mentor program and advocated for a stronger program to better serve the members.  She also worked to build collaborative relationships between NEDRA and its for-profit partners, significantly increasing sponsorships at NEDRA’s annual conference. After nearly six years, Helen retired from the board of directors in 2004 but she continues to serve the profession as a frequent speaker for NEDRA and APRA as well as AFP and CASE. 

With the growth of the Helen Brown Group, Helen is expanding her leadership overseas.  For the past several years, Helen has worked to increase the professional status of prospect research in the UK which lags behind the United States in advancement opportunities and compensation.   As a member of London’s Researchers in Fundraising, Helen participates in workshops and conferences around the UK and has even presented to fund raising professionals in Europe.   Most recently, Helen has partnered with Chris Carnie of The Factary to found ShareTraining, a web-based training program for fundraising professionals. 

As a representative of the prospect research profession, Helen is a wonderful ambassador for researchers around the world.  She continuously impresses her growing list of clients with her intellect, her generous spirit and her thoughtful strategies for success.  Characteristic of true leaders, Helen possesses vision.  She has a view of our profession that extends far into the future and in her quiet, focused, and most effective way, she is doing her part to ensure that we remain a profession that adds value to our institutions and earns respect simply and honestly through our good work.

Helen has given so much to NEDRA both as a role model and mentor, and has raised the bar in the quality and depth of our research.  Her enthusiasm, warmth and intelligence transcend beyond this role, making her a true leader in the field.  


2005:  Sandra Larkin 

Sandra Larkin handles communications for the Stewardship and Development office for the Unitarian Universalist Association. She writes, designs, and coordinates the information they share with donors—everything from the annual report to newsletters and special mailings to advertisements, proposals and fund reports. Previously, she was self-employed as the sole proprietor of Larkin Research Associates, a role she has held since 1995. She joined NEDRA in 1989 at her first prospect research job; she wrote her first book review for NEDRA News in 1991.  One year and a couple of NEDRA News articles later, she was asked to take over as editor, a job that lasted till 2000.  As editor, she attended NEDRA board meetings, so she joined the board in 1993 and served three two-year terms. She has attended at least a dozen NEDRA conferences and spoken at several. She describes joining NEDRA and getting involved as a volunteer as one of her smartest professional decisions.

2004:  David Eberly 

David Eberly has worked in the fundraising profession for over thirty years, serving at Tufts University, Harvard’s Medical School and John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. As an independent consultant, he has guided numerous organizations in higher education, health care, membership organizations, and the arts. David has provided expertise in board development; campaign feasibility and strategy; development operations and systems; prospect identification, research, and management; foundation proposal writing; and fundraising privacy and ethics. David is a past board member of APRA and a past president of NEDRA. He is the 2004 recipient of NEDRA’s Ann Castle Award. 

2003:  Shelley Brown 

In 2003, Shelley Brown was director of development research and systems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She had been in that position since 1987, directing a staff of over 20 employees. Shelley pioneered work in monitoring Initial Public Offerings and venture capital activities, as well as gathering valuable data through surveys of MIT founders, alumni, and top prospects. Previously, she was a director of development research at Boston University and a prospect researcher at Brandeis University. She presented at both NEDRA and APRA conferences, and served as a director of APRA in the early 1990s. She served as a co-chair of the national BSR/Advance Users Group. According to a colleague, "Shelley Brown demonstrates the highest level of commitment to her profession. In every institution she has served, she has led her department in setting an example of quality. She constantly seeks to develop and maintain excellence of service in every facet of operations in research and development information systems areas. She is an innovator, whose ideas have allowed the research department to stay at the forefront of its field. Finally, she is a thoughtful, dedicated, and caring individual and supervisor who never loses sight of the fact that people are the most important element in the equation."

2002:  Judith Rottenberg 

In 2002, Rottenberg was director of prospect research at Brandeis University. She had been working in development research there for 20 years. She initially worked in the Brandeis libraries, later moving into development research. In the 1990s, Rottenberg assumed responsibility for prospect management, in addition to managing the research staff. She started a program to trace Brandeis' lost alumni, which at the time accounted for 20% of all alumni. As a result of the project, that figure was reduced to 7%. Also, Rottenberg established a prospect tracking project, established goals for leadership giving, and collaborated with members if the development staff to achieve those goals.

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